Businesses and organisations across the European Union (EU) can register .eu web addresses from today that contain characters from all 23 official languages of the EU.
The move will allow those registering domain names to use characters such as à, ą, ä, ψ or д from alphabets such as Greek or Cyrillic under any .eu domain.
The change came after the European Commission (EC) decided that the European top level domain should offer characters in all official EU languages. Internet oversight body Icann gave the green light to IDNs earlier this year.
Prior to this announcement, many countries could not use their full alphabet for web domains. For example, the Czechs could only use 27 of 42 characters, and Lithuanians 23 of 32.
Viviane Reding, EU information society commissioner, said that the launch of international domain names responded to the needs of a multilingual and multicultural Europe.
There are now more than three million registered .eu domain names since its launch in 2005.
The changes could open up the possibility of people registering new or similar name variations of sites, but Robin Fry, a partner at law firm Beachcroft LLP, said that the days of significant cyber squatting are over.
Fry maintained that highly effective dispute resolution processes with the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and clear legal precedents, make it unnecessary for organisations to own portfolios of unused domain names.
"Search technologies and users are all savvy enough to find their way to the right web site," he said.
The EC is also working towards the introduction of internationalised domain name variants for .eu, for example '.eu' in Greek or Cyrillic characters, as soon as possible.
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